The Valparaiso University women’s soccer team had a myriad of opportunities at goal Sunday afternoon, recording one of the highest shot counts in program history, but the Crusaders were only able to finish one chance as they drew 1-1 with Bowling Green at Brown Field in their final match prior to the start of league play.
The Crusaders ended the 110 minutes of play on Sunday with 32 total shot attempts, fifth-most in a single match in program history and the most by a Valpo team since 2006. The efforts were not haphazard ones, either, as 22 of Valpo’s 32 shots were on goal, the third-highest total shots on goal in a single match all-time by the Crusaders.
But for all the Crusaders’ prolificacy in generating chances at goal, they were unable to convert those opportunities into goals, scoring just the once in the 53rd minute of the game to level the match at 1-1. Redshirt freshman Jordon Tindell (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) took a shot from the right side of the box which dipped down near the goal line to ricochet off the crossbar and bounce back towards the left side. There waiting was junior April Cronin (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), who easily tucked it away from in close for her fourth goal of the year.
Valpo was left wanting for more than the one goal thanks to the defensive effort of BGSU goalkeeper Lauren Cadel, as well as some help from her defenders. A sign of things to come for the Crusaders might have presented itself in the 17th minute, as a nice combination move resulted in a feed to senior Rita Craven (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) which she knocked home, but she was adjudged to be half a step offside at the time of the pass. Bowling Green took the lead in the 28th minute on a nice give-and-go between Mikaela Couch and Skylar Fleak which resulted in the latter finding the back of the net from 12 yards out.
The Crusaders had a flurry of four good chances in the 40th minute as they pushed looking for the equalizer nearing the three-quarter hour mark. Notably, sophomore Morgan Manzke (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) had a header cleared off the back line by a defender, and Craven followed with an rip from 20 yards away that was punched over the bar by Cadel. Another defender cleared a header off the back line for the Falcons just three minutes later, and Cadel made a pair of tough stops late in the half as Valpo trailed into the break.
Following the equalizer by Cronin, Valpo continued to press forward, controlling the play for the vast majority of the second half as it registered 14 shot attempts, nine of which were on goal, in the second period alone. Cronin had a couple stellar opportunities for a brace, but Cadel closed down and corralled a Cronin shot at close range after the junior was played in one-on-one in the 57th minute. Then, in the 75th minute, Cronin rifled a shot from about 25 yards away which Cadel tipped over the crossbar to keep it a 1-1 game.
The first period of extra time was relatively benign, but the final 10 minutes of the game were wide open. The Crusaders earned one corner kick and had five shots – four on goal – in that second overtime period, but could not find the back of the net. Meanwhile, junior Sydney Galvez-Daley (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick [Creighton]) made a couple huge saves to secure the draw, stopping an attempt from Erica Hubert in the 102nd minute and then coming off her line to smother an effort by Skylar Fleak after a turnover left them one-on-one in the 106th minute. Valpo escaped one final BGSU chance in the final minute, as a header off a corner kick was cleared off the line by a Crusader defender with just 23 seconds to play.
Cadel made a career-best 19 saves in goal for Bowling Green (4-2-1), while the Falcons also had a pair of team saves. Galvez-Daley stopped five shots in the draw for the Crusaders, who had the one late team save as well. Valpo was called for offsides five times and earned 12 corner kicks to the Falcons’ six.
“I was excited with all the scoring chances we created for ourselves today,” said Crusader head coach John Marovich. “But we have to become a lot better with taking those chances, being efficient with them and finishing them, especially with league play starting next weekend.”
Valparaiso (2-3-2) opens up Horizon League play Friday night at Brown Field versus Wright State. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, with live stats available as well at ValpoAthletics.com.